Dell Vostro 3700 review
A hulking 17.3in laptop that will appeal to businesses on a budget
Dell's Vostro range is aimed squarely at fulfilling the needs of the small-business crowd. Its marketing mantra revolves around providing security, service and reliability with minimal outlay.
This, the Dell Vostro 3700, is the hulking giant of the range, and hopes to appeal to those looking for a powerful, semi-portable workstation. The Vostro 3700 clearly wants to reign supreme as the most affordable 17.3in laptop on the market, and, as ever, Dell allows prospective purchasers to tailor the Vostro to suit the tightest of budgets.
The base model, available for £429 exc VAT, harbours a 2.13GHz Core i3 processor, 2GB of memory, a 250GB hard disk, Intel's integrated HD graphics and bog-standard 802.11bg wireless networking.
Squeeze that modest IT budget as hard as you can, and £645 will see the 3700 upgraded with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M, 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard disk, dedicated Nvidia GT 330M graphics and both Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless. Whichever you choose, though, the 17.3in display shares the same matte finish, 1,600 x 900 resolution and solid, dependable image quality.
Haul all 3kg of the Vostro 3700 onto the desk, and you're faced with a smart, businesslike notebook of daunting proportions. And, while its size might not appeal to some, there's no question that this redesign is the most successful the Vostro range has yet seen.
Reminiscent of the pricier Latitude range, the Vostro still has a clear identity of its own; clean lines and soft, rounded edges form a double act with acres of brushed aluminium framed by matte-black and glossy accents. It's only once you get up close and personal that the Vostro gives any clues as to its budget beginnings.
It's hardly surprising, but it's never going to give the extraordinarily sturdy Dell Precision M6500 a run for its money in the build quality stakes. Grapple heavy-handedly with the base and the odd creak and bit of flex make it clear that Dell has had to scrimp and save to hit such a low price point.
That flexibility is far from chronic, but it does leave the keyboard bereft of a sturdy foundation to build on. So although each key boasts plenty of travel and a positive action, its bouncy feel means it isn't the most comfortable keyboard upon which to type.
It's probably a little much to expect perfection at this price, though, and Dell has clearly worked hard to make the Vostro appeal to its target market.
Take a good long, hard look at the Vostro 3700, and there are plenty of plus points. The metal lid, for example, elicits far more confidence than the base beneath, and valiantly resisted our best efforts to prod and poke it hard enough to foul the TFT panel inside.
|Price ex VAT||£429|
|Price inc VAT||£504|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||6|
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||410 x 271 x 40mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-720M|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM57 Express|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,600|
|Resolution screen vertical||900|
|Resolution||1600 x 900|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GT 330M|
|Graphics card RAM||1.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||466GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Seagate ST9500420AS|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||Optiarc AD-7585H|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||5|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||IDT HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||2hr 40min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.57|
|Office application benchmark score||1.44|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.72|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.44|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.68|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||N/A|
|3D performance setting||N/A|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition, Revovery discs|